Investigative journalist Topher Sanders released a report on ProPublica today where he reveals how multiple injuries and fatalities were swept under the rug by Class I carriers BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern. The article goes into detail on stories common to us in the industry. Jared Cassity, SMART-TD Alternate National Legislative Director, helped shine a public spotlight on this critical issue.

Read What’s Missing From Railroad Safety Data? Dead Workers and Severed Limbs on ProPublica

Brother Cassity is a nationally recognized expert on railroad safety and a leader of SMART-TD’s National Safety Team (NST). He does not sugarcoat his responses, especially when it comes to the well-being of our members.

“The system is rigged, especially when it comes to injuries. You see what they want you to see,” Cassity said in the article. ProPublica found that carriers pick and choose what injuries they report so that they can boast about their safety records.

As the largest rail union in the nation, SMART-TD is an established authority for rail-related issues. Brother Cassity’s efforts reflect our union’s commitment to safeguard members, have our hardships recognized and to force the railroads to improve conditions for those who keep our economy moving.

Please take a moment to read this article and share it with friends and family on your social media accounts. Widespread understanding of the industry’s culture of corruption is the best weapon we all have to combat it.

Brother Chris Seidl of Local 1227 (Wichita, Kan.) was struck and killed by a train car the night of Dec. 3 while performing service in a yard in north Wichita. He was an employee of Wichita Terminal Association, which is jointly owned by BNSF and Union Pacific.

He had been a member of SMART-TD since October 2018.
He is survived by his parents, Steve and Kathy, brothers Chuck, Corey and Chad. He is the father of three children: Wyatt, Adison and Brody. He was engaged to fiancée Jody Hagen.
An online fundraiser has been established at
His obituary is available here.
Additional details were not provided by police, and an investigation into the accident by the Federal Railroad Administration is ongoing.
SMART-TD members are reminded of these safety recommendations put forth by the Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis workgroup when engaged in switching operations:

  1. Secure all equipment before action is taken.
  2. Protect employees against moving equipment.
  3. Discuss safety at the beginning of a job or when work changes.
  4. Communicate before action is taken.
  5. Mentor less experienced employees to perform service safely.

Read a local news report about the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a preliminary report on the Oct. 4 collision of two Union Pacific (UP) trains in Granite Canyon, Wyo., that killed SMART Transportation Division Local 446 members Jason Vincent Martinez, 40, and Benjamin “Benji” George Brozovich, 39.
The report states that data retrieved from the event recorder of the train indicated that an emergency brake application failed to slow the train as it descended a grade west of Cheyenne before striking the rear of a stationary train.
“Normally, the locomotive would send a message to the end-of-train device to also apply the brakes with an emergency brake application,” NTSB said in the preliminary report. “According to the event recorder, the end-of-train device did not make an emergency application of the brakes. Investigators are researching the reason for the communication failure. After the engineer applied the emergency application, the train continued to accelerate until reaching 56 mph as the last recorded speed.”
Positive train control (PTC) was active at the time of the accident, NTSB said.
NTSB said further investigation will focus on components of the train’s air brake system, head-of-train and end-of-train radio-linked devices, train braking simulations and current railroad operating rules. Investigators will also determine if the railroad’s air brake and train handling instructions address monitoring air flow readings and recognizing the communication status with the end-of-train device, the report stated.
Three locomotives and 57 cars of the striking train derailed. Nine cars of the stationary train derailed.
The investigation into the collision is continuing, and a final report will be released by NTSB at a later date.
Follow this link to read the preliminary report.

A memorial fund for Amtrak conductor Mike Cella, a current SMART Transportation Division member out of Local 30 in Florida, and engineer Mike Kempf, a former SMART TD member, who were tragically killed in the line of duty on Sunday, Feb. 4, has been established.
Proceeds from the fund will be used to help their families with expenses as they grieve the loss of these men in the collision of Amtrak 91 with a parked CSX freight train.
Contributions will be split evenly between the families. Please give what you can at
A printable PDF flyer to post at Locals is available at this link.

NTSB_logoWASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board Sept. 24 issued a special investigation report on the recent increase in deaths of railroad and rail transit roadway workers on or near tracks and made recommendations to reduce the number of fatalities.

The Special Investigation Report on Railroad and Rail Transit Roadway Worker Protection provides details of 14 fatal accidents in 2013. Over the year, 15 roadway workers died. The number of deaths in 2013, the findings from investigations of those deaths and the increasing number of fatalities prompted the NTSB to look more closely at the issue of roadway worker safety and to recommend actions to address these issues.

Railroad and rail transit roadway workers are subject to on-the-job risks and hazards that are markedly different from those faced by other railroad employees. Of the fatalities in 2013, 11 resulted from 11 accidents on freight railroads and four were on commuter or transit railways. The average number of railroad worker fatalities has fluctuated but has remained about 6.4 per year from 1990 to 2013.

“Railroad roadway worker deaths have increased over the past three years,” said NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart. “This trend is unacceptable.”

Among the report’s findings are that comprehensive job briefings could help prevent accidents and that national inspection protocols for work activities are necessary to ensure the safety of roadway workers.

The NTSB issued recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Fatality Analysis of Maintenance-of-Way Employees and Signalmen Committee. The recommendations call for additional training, harmonization of standards, a national inspection program and greater stakeholder participation in roadway worker fatalities, among other measures.

A summary of the special report is available at